Racists among us: BLM movement shines light on the best and worst of the Bay Area Area
Prosecutors with the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office announced that they’ve filed felony criminal threat charges with a hate crime enhancement against a 55-year-old San Francisco man. Steven Cibotti, the accused, allegedly approached a family who were sitting down to eat together at Flights Restaurant in Burlingame on June 7 and threatened their lives.
The family, including three children between the ages of 2 and 7 years old, had just attended a San Francisco march in the wake of George Floyd’s death. They were wearing Black Lives Matter shirts.
Cibotti took offense to the message.
He’s said to have yelled “blue lives matter” before he shoved their table. When the father told him not to talk to his family in that manner, Cibotti went even further down the racist rabbit hole, yelling:
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“Fuck you! If I had a gun, I would shoot all of you.”
Cibotti was arraigned Tuesday on felony charges and released on $150,000 bail to await his July 22 court date.
Near Indian Rock in the Berkeley hills last week, two black girls were verbally assaulted by a white woman who reportedly lives in the affluent area that floats above the flats. The neighborhood is known for its large boulders that serve as great places for novice rock climbers to learn the basics.
The Brown Girls Climbing group, led by Emily Taylor, was at Cragmont Rock Park to do just that on June 15.
As two of the girls, one only 10 years old, sat down to first draw the rock as their coach directed, the woman walking by said:
“You n- girls need to get out of this park.”
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A Berkeley Resident walker walked by yesterday said to a 10 and 7 year old campers "Get out of the park fu*king nigger girls, it's closed!" This is the third aggressive action at the crag in a week in a half. This is Black body in affluent white space. 12 mins out of your day if you care so much.
As Taylor points out in her emotional Instagram video describing the incident, a Black Lives Matter banner hung for 10 days just down the hill from where the girls were verbally attacked.
Then we have the case of nooses popping up around Oakland and reportedly now at Sonoma Raceway. While some people attempted to explain away the ropes as “exercise” equipment, at least one person went out of their way to make the intention abundantly clear with an effigy hanging from a rope strung up in a tree at Lake Merritt on June 18.
The Oakland Police Department and FBI are investigating all of the noose incidents as hate crimes.
There are several other recent disturbing accounts of locals ripping down BLM signs and confronting protesters in aggressive ways.
It can be jarring to see and hear that kind of racist behavior inside the bubble that is the Bay Area, but it’s a wakeup call we probably needed.
Prejudice and racism run deep in every facet of American society and seemingly progressive havens are not insulated from that reality. The fact is that racism has and continues to lurk in the shadows of liberal cities. The problem was always there but people have recently become much more emboldened about expressing their hateful feelings out loud and in public.
If we are to be the allies people of color are calling for, we need to address the problems first in their own backyards. By exposing themselves, local racists give us an idea of what and who we’re up against.
Unlike the rest of the country, our racist underpinnings are slightly more hidden, more nuanced, more systemic in nature but we are not immune to the extremes. It’s just that now we can’t ignore them any longer.
We may not have the war here over Confederate flags, but we have our own pockets of racism and racists to deal with, and it’s well past due time we start.